Concerns mount as 2 Moncton homeless shelters close in spring
A New Brunswick social worker says a plan is needed to deal with the upcoming closure of half of Moncton’s four homeless shelters in just over two months.
“Overall, we’re all just concerned and wondering what will happen if we close two shelters in the spring,” Trevor Goodwin, senior director of outreach services at the YMCA in Moncton, said Thursday night.
A shelter managed by the YMCA on Mark Avenue and another operated by The Humanity Project on St. George Street together accommodate about 150 people a night, Goodwin said.
Both were built with state funds under contracts that expire at the end of April.
“It’s essentially a loss of at least 140 beds,” Goodwin said.
His comments reflect what has become an almost annual problem: a lack of cold-weather shelter is met with a makeshift shelter that closes in the spring, leaving people back on the streets.
After the temporary shelter on St George Street was originally announced, Social Development Secretary Dorothy Shephard told reporters the city need not make another effort to set up winter shelter this autumn.
“We will have a plan that will be – there will be a system that can be scaled up or down and it will meet the needs that exist here.”
Goodwin said Thursday there were ongoing efforts between various service providers, the New Brunswick government and the city to accommodate as many people as possible.
“But we can’t build homes in a couple of months, and we can’t just pull them out of thin air,” Goodwin said.
Dozens still live outside
Along with two other shelters run by the House of Nazareth and Harvest House, Goodwin said about 400 people are being housed in shelters.
However, he said there are still 35 to 50 people living outside.
“Most of the time, they’re not there because they want to be, but because they don’t want to be in an emergency shelter,” Goodwin said.
He said it could be because they are uncomfortable being in a room with dozens of others due to drug use, mental health crises or violence.
Goodwin’s comments were part of a presentation to the Codiac Regional Policing Authority board of directors. The civilian board oversees the Codiac Regional RCMP.
Codiac’s commanding officer, Supt. Benoit Jolette, said police noticed a change after the two shelters opened late last year.
“Since we’ve had the additional services, we’ve really seen a decrease in the number of calls,” Jolette told reporters.
Jolette said it means officers who might otherwise be busy responding to calls about social issues could do other policing instead.
Goodwin said the city needed a 24-hour drop-in center for homeless people to escape the weather that could offer advice and other services.
The YMCA had a drop-in room for several years, but it closed in 2018. Goodwin said the organization subsequently had a difficult time finding a site that would rent space for this use.